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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

South African Parks Seek Private-Sector Partners

WELGEVONDEN GAME RESERVE, South Africa - South Africa's national parks plan to woo the private sector in a bid to raise badly needed funds for conservation and extend the blessings of tourist revenue to poor rural communities.

"We plan to announce tenders late next year, possibly in October or November, offering concessions to private contractors to run businesses in our parks," said Mavuso Msimang, the director of South African National Parks.

"We are looking at the establishment of private restaurants and lodges and other facilities in our parks," he said.

South Africa's world-class national parks, including the renowned Israel-sized Kruger Park, are the star attractions in a country that does not bring in as many tourists as it should because of its reputation for violent crime.

Msimang said surveys showed that almost 65 percent of visitors to South Africa came for its wildlife and scenery.

"We need to cooperate with the private sector to raise revenue. About 60 percent of our funding comes from the government, and we raise 40 percent of it ourselves. And we will be getting less from the government in future."

South Africa's government is committed to policies of fiscal austerity but must also meet the needs of a far larger constituency than previous apartheid administrations, which only focused on the needs of the white-minority.